Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rockstar Status Fading

The financial crisis is making it harder for western guys who've contracted "yellow fever."

From Asia Times:
HONG KONG - As if formerly high-flying Western bankers and financiers haven't suffered enough, now there is an additional indignity: Chinese women have lost interest in them.

According to two recent nationwide surveys by the matchmaking website, mainland women keen on finding a foreign partner plunged from 42% to 16% over the past year.

For that dramatic decline, you can blame the financial crisis, which has made Western society - especially its male avatars - look unstable to Chinese women considering their romantic (which tends to be intimately linked to their financial) future.


Mixed marriages, which reached 400,000 last year, had been on a steady rise in China until the US subprime mortgage crisis started a global financial meltdown that has turned a Western partner into a poor prospect in the eyes of many Chinese women. Not only do the surveys show the number of women seeking a foreign mate has dropped significantly, but approval of such unions has also fallen by 20%.

While all this should be good news for Chinese men, their prospects also don't look terribly bright. China's one-child policy, coupled with a traditional preference for male children, has created a gender imbalance that will leave already choosy Chinese women even choosier. And, no matter what choices those women make, 32 million Chinese men face a future without any hope of marriage, according to a study published online last week by the British Medical Journal.

Read On

Photo taken from
This article, by Kent Ewing, is a nice, in-depth look into why Chinese women appear to be losing interest in men and the factors that are involved when a Chinese woman chooses a husband.

In my three years in China, I've seen quite a lot of western men get with Chinese women (I haven't seen a lot of western women getting with Chinese men, but I have seen it a couple times). And of course I'm with a Chinese woman, so I'm somewhat of an authority on this topic.

I've taken the more serious relationship route that many of my peers also have. I'm engaged to my girlfriend and plan on being with her, obviously, for the rest of my life. I have several western friends who've gotten married, are engaged, or are in serious long-term relationships with Chinese women.

Those of us who've chosen this path haven't taken it lightly.

Being with a Chinese woman involves a lot of work on understanding Chinese culture. The expectations that Chinese women have of Chinese men are a lot different than that of western women. Indeed, being in a cross-cultural relationship adds a whole new dimension, and possible difficulty, to the relationship.

In my opinion, being with a Chinese woman has its advantages and disadvantages. Qian would probably not like me to discuss the inner workings of our relationship with anonymous people on the internet, so I will just leave it at that. But be sure that there are lots of compromises to accomodate the other going in both directions.

I like how the article above talks at length about the economic factors a Chinese woman has to consider when choosing a man to be with for the rest of her life. I've seen Qian struggle with this. She has to somehow gel her parents' expectations of what a husband should be and what I am.

The lack of a social safety net - modernized health care, retirement, education, etc. - makes financial stability an absolute must for a man hoping to marry. A man needs to have a good job, a new apartment, and a fair amount of savings before he is "ready to marry."

This is a problem for Qian and me. My salary is relatively high by Chinese standards. But my lack of a purchased apartment and high savings concerns Qian's parents and extended family. Also, going back to America, I have no assurances of a good job. In fact, I have assurances of a terrible job market and, very likely, under-employment.

In the two plus years that I've been with Qian and the times that I've interacted with her family, I believe that they are more-and-more growing to like and trust me. But gaining their trust has not been easy. Qian's family is relatively conservative and they're having to take a huge leap-of-faith on accepting Qian's decision to be with me.

Considering the beating that the US and the West have, justifiably, taken in the Chinese media regarding the financial crisis, it's very easy to see why young Chinese women (and their families), who have to be concerned about financial stability, would be wary of western men.

I'm not implying that Chinese women with western men are "gold diggers" or are out for money. I'm sure some of them are, but a majority of the ones that I know with western men are not. Qian certainly isn't. I've made it clear to her that a philosophy major from a middle-class midwestern American family with very few connections is not going to be a ticket to riches. She understands this. As I'm confident anyone reading this who has met Qian could testify to, she's not that kind of a girl.

Going forward in these times, life is going to be tough. Qian knows this. Being involved with a foreign man adds a whole different wrinkle to her life. But we believe that what we're doing will be worth the added complications.

Although the percentage of Chinese women who'd consider being with a western guy has dropped, I'm sure western guys with visions of women hanging all over them will continue to have, at least some, success.

There is a very large number of young women who are more liberalized and who are willing to have the kind of "casual" relationships that are commonplace in the West. I'd say that this will be the case for at least the next decade.

When that time period comes and the grossly out-of-balanced male/female ratio is in full force though, I have to imagine that there will be severe nationalistic backlash against Chinese women who choose to be with western men.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a great place to raise a family in the US but don't expect get rich! I told my Chinese friends many times back in China. The vast majority Chinese families in the US are middle class but not in China yet. Maybe another 30 years or so. Best wishes to you and your family!
Anqi Dai
Kansas City, Missouri